Over five months have passed since I wrote the following:

I’ll definitely post links so you can download my MIDI software and the DOSBox configuration for it to run sweetly. I’ll try to do so before another month goes by…

Well, I didn’t get it out before a month went by – but I got it out before six months went by (that counts for something doesn’t it?).

Download your copy of Apriori Enterprises MIDI Compozer right here. See below the jump for more info on this little program.

Along with finally making this program available (not that anyone has really be waiting for it…), I also have some new tracks to share. The first is actually a new track: Gray. I composed it fairly recently (past couple of months). The second is an extremely old track: A Night in Giza. In fact, this is the first full song I composed digitally. I think I was in ninth grade (’round about 1991). By the way, I did not write my software when I was in ninth grade. I used other, much crappier software in high school. I wrote my program in college because I had “outgrown” the other program (which was shareware and cost me something like $3 for a 5.25 inch disk).

I also decided to post some other music I wrote back in high school. These, however, are not digital compositions. These were recorded with an analog 4-track tape recorder using real musical instruments and microphones. I’m posting the least embarrassing tracks, but keep in mind they were all recorded around fifteen years ago. I’ve grown tremendously in my guitar-playing skills and song-writing/composition. So one of these days I’d like to get my hands on some decent recording equipment (or figure out how to turn my computer into decent recording equipment, which is probably the better/cheaper route to take) so that I can make some more recent recordings that are more representative of what I write and play.

First up is a strange little number. The recording quality is pretty low (please bear with me). You could probably tell from the unreal sound of the guitar that this one is an exercise in back-masking. Just in case it isn’t obvious from the music, listen for the spoken word (which is my old next door neighbor, Keith Groover, saying something silly like, “drink milk because it is good for you”). Without further ado: Untitled #1.

Next up is, in fact, the exact same strange little number. The recording quality is better. I kept the older one though because I thought it sounded cooler. This version is missing something (something other than the backwards voice – which also happens to be absent): Untitled #1, Reprise.

Alright – now for some real music. Here is a brief snippet from a track I laid down with three other high school students at a place in Greenville, SC called The Fine Arts Center. I went to this place for a half-day every school day my junior and senior years of high school. My junior year was spent in visual arts. I went for drawing, but I had to take other visual arts classes there so I also took sculpture. While in the drawing class I was first exposed to Adobe Photoshop, and it was love at first sight – except for the icky, one-button mouse on that stinkin’ Mac… I still have some slides of original abstract works I created in Photoshop back then. Anyhow, my senior year I went for electric guitar performance and studied jazz improvisation. This effort was a group project to re-interpret Mile Davis’ So What. Our interpretation was a kind of dreamy, soft rock fusion thingamajig. The clip is very brief because my only tape of this recording was accidentally cut short (a friend of mine borrowed the tape and accidentally taped over part of this tune).

This next piece was a spin-off of another project from my senior year at The Fine Arts Center. When studying the seven modes, we were charged with picking a mode and writing a song. I was the only one brave enough to pick the unresolvable Locrian mode. The piece was well accepted, and I got a good grade on it. I later recorded it. I borrowed my neighbor’s acoustic guitar (Keith Groover again) for this track. The name of the track is Sleeping Alone.

For music theory geeks: It feels like it resolves to B minor in the end because I essentially “cheated” when writing this song. Although you’ll not here a single F# in the entire song, it is implied. When the tonic chords are played, the diminished fifth is intentionally absent (which tends to imply F#, the perfect fifth). So the song sounds less like B Locrian and more like B Phrygian that drifts in and out of F Lydian.

I will now leave you with a final track. I have to admit that the beginning, played by a clean-tone guitar, was somewhat plagiarized. There was another student at The Fine Arts Center (Joe something – can’t remember his name; he wasn’t in my class for very long) who had written something pretty much just like this. I dug it and worked it into a song of my own. Never fear: the vast majority of the song is all original. I never named this track, so we’ll just call it Untitled #2.

MIDI Compozer

Words of Warning

Keep in mind that it is a DOS program (hence the discussion of DOSBox in my last post about it), and it doesn’t support a mouse (all keyboard interaction). Ctrl+K is your friend until you figure out the keys (not that anyone is likely to actually try this out… but just in case). The ZIP also includes a Word Document that contains all of the directions.

It is pre-configured to use a General MIDI device. You don’t really need to worry about this if your are using DOSBox vs. actual DOS because DOSBox will use your sound hardware and emulate the General MIDI interface if necessary (it works like a charm under Windows anyhow, and I believe users with other operating systems should find it similarly great).

How to Run

You will find several ways to run this program:

  • On Windows, you could double-click on either the COMPOZER shortcut or COMPOZER.EXE. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t expect this to actually work. The software won’t run if it doesn’t detect the right hardware, and it most likely won’t (it is trying to detect pretty archaic hardware).
  • On other platforms, run it in DOSBox. You can use the provided compozer-dosbox.conf file for Windows. This configuration may need to be tweaked for other platforms.


I wrote the software originally for a Yamaha OPL2/OPL3 synthesizer card (aka Adlib music card). The OPL2 only supported ten voices. The OPL3 was stereo and supported twenty, but each voice could only be defined as 100% left, right, or mono. So this program supports only ten voices on an OPL3 but provides full pan support from left to right. The General MIDI support was the last bit I wrote (once I finally got a General MIDI card for my computer). General MIDI supports sixteen tracks, each track with umpteen simultaneous voices (though actual hardware often limited total voices to between 32 and 256). I chose not to re-write the program completely for General MIDI, so you only get ten distinct notes total.

If you choose percussion then you only get six distinct musical notes at a time and four distinct percussive notes at a time. Again, this has its roots in OPL2 hardware limitations.

If there are any brave souls out there who try to actually tinker with this (I’m not actually expecting any), I can send you some sample music files so you can see what a song looks like without having to go through all of the trouble of writing one yourself. It may also give you some ideas on how to make “dense” music work with so few voices.